TRULY HISTORIC ~ TIMELESS EVENTS

Before the Cow Palace, before the United States, and before the Spanish empire, Visitacion Valley was home to the Ohlone people. The Valley's abundance of wildlife, native plants, and potable water helped the Ohlone flourish for centuries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Spanish colonists arrived, Visitacion Valley changed dramatically and became a ranch-based community that ended the traditional Ohlone way of life. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded Visitacion Valley from Mexico to the United States.

 

Thanks to the extremely popular livestock pavilion at the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition and World's Fair, plans began for a permanent pavillion in the Bay Area. Built during the Great Depression of the 1930s as part of the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Cow Palace opened in 1941. When the US entered World War II soon after, the Cow Palace was immediately pressed into service to support soldiers bound for the Pacific Theater.

Since 1941, the Cow Palace has welcomed over 50 million visitors at countless events, concerts, rallies, and celebrations.

"History is alive at the Cow Palace!

Its lessons must be preserved for the

education and inspiration of future generations."

The Historic Cow Palace
The Historic Cow Palace

The Cow Palace as seen in a picture postcard from the 1950s.

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Cow Palace construction, 1938
Cow Palace construction, 1938

The idea for a "Cow Palace" was born in 1915 but lay dormant until the early 1930s. As the Great Depression worsened, a local newspaper asked, "Why, when people are starving, should money be spent on a 'palace for cows'?" A headline writer turned the phrase around and the name Cow Palace stuck.

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The San Francisco Bulls, 2012-14
The San Francisco Bulls, 2012-14

The Cow Palace readied for the San Francisco Bulls ice hockey team, 2012-2014. The Bulls were a professional minor ice hockey team of the ECHL and an affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. To accommodate the Bulls, the team spent $2 million installing a new ice system in the Cow Palace and a custom-made 360-degree wraparound LED video scoreboard. The Bulls folded in 2014.

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The Historic Cow Palace
The Historic Cow Palace

The Cow Palace as seen in a picture postcard from the 1950s.

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Rock 'n Roll History

 

The arena has hosted the world's most famous rock n' roll musicians from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to the Beach Boys, from the Jackson 5 to Elvis Presley, The Who, the Grateful Dead, KISS, Van Halen, Prince, U2, Nirvana, and many many more.

Agricultural & Rodeo History

 

The Cow Palace continues to serve the agricultural community--the largest economic sector in California. The Cow Palace continues to engage, entertain, and remind us where our food comes from. Hopefully, the Cow Palace will continue to inspire an interest in becoming much needed future farmers of America.

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Sports History

The Cow Palace has been home to many sports including boxing and wrestling, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, pro tennis, and even roller derby! Hosting athletes from Wilt Chamberlain to John McEnroe, the Cow Palace was the original West Coast home of the Warriors. Other sports teams included the San Jose / Golden Bay Earthquakes, San Francisco Seals, San Jose Sharks, and San Francisco Bulls.

Fairs, Festivals & Circus History

 

Recurring Cow Palace events such as the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Exotic Erotic Ball contributed to the rich tapestry of culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, ongoing events such as the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show continue to provide a unique contribution to Northern California.

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Political History

 

Major political events hosted at the Cow Palace include the 1956 and 1964 Republican National Conventions. Then presidential candidate Senator John F. Kennedy chose the Cow Palace to announce his plans for a "Peace Corps" and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at the 1964 Republican Convention Platform Committee about the critical importance of the Civil Rights Amendment.